An Argument Against the “Copyright Monopoly”

Soapbox time, gang! Lissun up!

And, yeah, we find a lot of good points in this argument. And a few we think fall flat. Let us know what you think in the comments:

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“THE LETTER” IS STILL THE BEST STORY TO EXPLAIN WHY COPYRIGHT MONOPOLY MUST BE REDUCED
by Rick Falkvinge

People are still getting distracted by the silly question of “how somebody will get paid” if the copyright monopoly is reduced. It’s irrelevant, it’s a red herring. What this debate is about is bringing vital civil liberties along from the analog environment into the digital – and that requires allowing file-sharing all out.

As I travel the world and speak to people from all professions and walks of life about the copyright monopoly, “the letter” is still the story that causes the most pennies to drop about why the copyright monopoly must be reduced. It’s by far the angle that makes the message come across to the most people.

“How will the artists make money” is basically just a distraction from the real and important issues at hand, and this story helps bring them there.

The story of “the letter” deals with just how big and vital civil liberties have been sacrificed in the transition from analog to digital at the tenacious insistence of the copyright industry for the sake of their bottom line. The analog letter was the message sent the way our parents sent them: written onto a physical piece of paper, put into an envelope, postaged with an old-fashioned stamp and put into a mailbox for physical delivery to the intended recipient.

That letter had four important characteristics that each embodied vital civil liberties.

That letter, first of all, was anonymous. Everybody had the right to send an anonymous message to somebody. You could identify yourself on the inside of the message, for only the recipient to know, on the envelope, for the postal services to know, or not at all. Or you could write a totally bogus name, organization, and address as the sender of your message, and that was okay, too. Not just okay, it was even fairly common.

Second, it was secret in transit. When we talk of letters being opened and inspected routinely, the thoughts go to scenes of the East German Stasi – the Ministerium für Staatssicherheit, the East German National Security Agency (yes, that’s how Stasi’s name translates). Letters being opened and inspected? Seriously? You had to be theprimary suspect of an extremely grave crime for that to take place.

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One thought on “An Argument Against the “Copyright Monopoly”

  1. Anil says:

    You can add legal protection to the list. If you mess with a letter, it’s a felony. If you mess with an e-mail …

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